It might sound impossible, but it’s true – happy healthy relationships do exist. Of course, it takes two to maintain them, but knowing how to achieve it can go a long way. Let’s talk about the habits that we recommend you acquire to better your romantic relationship.
1. The relationship is the highest priority
This is about true partnership, where you approach the world as a team and solve issues that arise in a way that is beneficial to your union not to separate individuals. Priorities might shift, and it’s important to stay committed to each other through any change’s life throws at you. Don’t forget to acknowledge your continual commitment to your partner, so that they feel secure in your relationship.
Keep this approach when you’re having an argument, remember if you’re in disagreement, the goal is to conclude or resolution that benefits you both, not to “win”, making your partner the loser. This will only lead to resentment and alienation.
2. Radical honesty
You want your partner to love you for exactly who you are, but to do that, they need to know them who you are first. This is your responsibility – whether or not you show your true colors, your genuine self to your significant other is only up to you. If you bottle up your frustrations, you won’t give your partner a chance to resolve the conflict. How can they help if they don’t know that something’s wrong? Not to mention that honesty is the way we build trust, the second most important brick in the relationship foundation, first one being love.
3. Keep dating
The secret to a happy and fulfilling relationship is to keep the effort you’d been putting into dating in the early stages. You were very thoughtful, you came up with fun things to do together, you showed interest in the other person’s life and hobbies. Never lose that attitude. Honeymoon doesn’t have to end!
4. Intentional Love
According to The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman we each have our own preferred love language, one or several out of five distinct ones. The book describes the ways in which we want to be shown love. It’s very important to know not only what our love language is but that of our partner as well. Not knowing each other’s love languages can lead to a lot of unnecessary misunderstanding and conflict, and even build up resentment.
5. Make a point to connect daily
Couples who stay together for a long time, often have this habit in common – they stay connected by sharing rituals that are small but happen on a daily basis. This promotes both physical and emotional connection in the pair. Some couples go on daily walks, tell each other about their day over dinner, and so on. Marriage and family therapist Jennifer Chappell Marsh says, “Emotional connection is the glue in our relationships. Over time, these small interactions build into a deep sense of trust and intimacy that keep couples happy and together.”
Day to day life can get overwhelming and have you running in a hamster wheel, but don’t let yourself switch into autopilot and forget to nurture the relationship. Happy couples prioritize staying connected and regularly appoint time to just be present with each other. This doesn’t mean being in the same room while scrolling through your phones, but intentionally interact. Maybe discuss where you want to go on vacation, share about how you’ve been feeling lately, let each other in on your aspirations and dreams. A big part of this is to make sure to hold space for each other, not being judgmental or dismissive. Being able to listen with genuine interest and compassion is one of key elements of a successful partnership.
6. Spend time separately
It’s important to find time to do your own thing. It’s perfectly normal to expect your partner to participate and take interest in your life, but you don’t want to enmesh with each other completely. Remember to give yourself space to be your own person no matter how close and harmonious your relationship with the significant other may be.
In a healthy couple, partners value each other’s independence and are supportive of it. Learn to be equally comfortable with both doing your own thing and being together.
7. Argue in a healthy way
Knowing how to fight is an integral skill to have in a relationship. Too often, couples who don’t know how reach an agreement or resolve the conflict, end up just pausing the fight because they’re exhausted to continue. This means the fight will get resumed repeatedly and cause resentment to build up overtime. It’s very important to come to a resolution, even a short term one, so that you can move forward.
Both partners should intentionally try to come to a resolution of the conflict that is satisfactory to both parties. This is what it means to work together not against each other.
It is also very beneficial to make sure your partner knows they are heard. Even if you don’t see eye to eye in a conflict, make it known to your significant other that their point of view is valid and respected. You can be in a loving relationship and disagree time to time without letting it put a wedge between you.
Differences are inevitable – be it opinions, habits, preferences, or expectations. Acceptance of your differences is key in this journey.
A Lot of us dream of healthy, happy, long-lasting relationships that will be our safe haven, the source of love, support and companionship. It can be easy to be happy together in the beginning, but how do you make it last? The answer is – intention and effort. Be clear and honest when communicating, respect each other’s differences, make sure to spend quality time together to keep the bond strong, and express love in the way your partner wants to receive it.
Keep your commitment to each other active, meaning, don’t get into the trap of thinking that if you’ve committed to your significant other once, the work is done, and no everything will go smoothly with no additional effort. A partnership is a journey, it requires tending to, intentional work, respect, and attention, but most importantly, it must be founded on mutual love.
No matter how long you’ve been together, those are the fundamental guidelines that can’t be neglected. These standards are not always easy to uphold, but they are necessary for one of the most important aspects of your life – your relationship with the person you’re spending your lifetime with, sharing a life together.
If you find yourself introspecting and questioning whether you’ve been doing a good job at maintaining your part and find it difficult to do all these seven things at once – give yourself grace and start small. Progress won’t likely go unnoticed but learning these healthy habits will get you far. A happy partnership is very possible, and once you have it as an expectation, everything else is achievable!